30 May Chemical Storage Guidelines in NSW
The NSW Regional Safety Conference was created to foster a positive attitude towards Workplace Health and Safety. Through education, we hope to reduce the staggering number of injuries and fatalities that occur every year.
One area that is particularly preventable is chemical exposure. In fact, SafeWork NSW believes the diseases, illnesses, irritations and injuries are 100% preventable. The organisation, who will be exhibiting at our 2019 event, says the safe use, storage and handling of chemicals is essential.
Director of Chemicals Policy, Dr Paul Taylor, believes Safe Work Australia’s latest chemical storage guide is important for small to medium sized businesses. He says it’s essential to know which chemicals are safe to store together, which ones aren’t, and where to store them.
The guide was released late last year and has been put together by a group of representatives from national work health and safety regulators, unions and industry groups. It covers everything from “what are hazardous chemicals?”, right through to the hierarchy of control measures.
A few key guidelines we took away from the document are as follows;
- How do we manage risks?
The guide says it’s important to manage risks associated with hazardous chemicals by; identifying the hazard, assessing risks, eliminating risks so far as is reasonably practicable, controlling risks – if it is not practical to eliminate the risk, reviewing and maintaining control measures to ensure they are working as planned.
- Identity and separate incompatible chemicals.
When storing hazardous chemicals, it’s important to ensure anything that’s being stored together is safe to do so. This can often be difficult, as the guide says “some types of chemicals are always incompatible (for example oxidisers and flammable liquids) but some chemicals with similar hazards are also incompatible (for example, acids and bases).” It’s important to refer to your safety data sheets (SDS) to ensure you know which chemicals are incompatible.
Once you know which substances should not be stored together, you can implement separation techniques such as distance, barriers, separate rooms separate buildings, and external storage tanks.
- Keeping it up to date.
Once you’ve organised the safe storage of your hazardous chemicals, it’s important to keep these measures updated. The guide suggests maintenance of control measures such as; training staff regularly to ensure they know how to store and handle chemicals safely; checking bunds, tanks, pipework and compressed gas fittings for signs of damage; and, preventative maintenance and testing programs for engineering controls such as ventilation systems, fire alarms and sprinkler systems. There’s also a handy storage checklist and segregation chart contained within the guide, for your reference.